Monday, January 08, 2007

Five Years On

Marking the fifth anniversary of the Boston Globe piece that thrust US Catholicism into the greatest crisis it has ever known, the man sent to handle its fallout in 2003 -- Cardinal Sean O'Malley OFM Cap. -- penned an op-ed for yesterday's editions:
Five years ago, as we marked [Epiphany] on Jan. 6, 2002, the devastating revelations that Catholic clergy had sexually abused children shook the Archdiocese of Boston and the wider community. The contrast between the feast, which celebrates the light of Christ, and the dark and unremitting truth of clergy sexual abuse seemed, at first, impossible to accept.

But the truth of the abuse had to be confronted. These crimes against children were all the more heinous because they were committed by men who vowed themselves to emulate Christ, and were further enabled by the failure of the Church leadership to respond appropriately.

God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ to lift us out of the darkness of sin. Only with the truth of clergy sexual abuse exposed could we again seek to walk fully in His light....

On my own behalf and on behalf of the good and faithful men, women, clergy, and religious of our archdiocese, I again express my most heartfelt apology to all the children and young people, most now adults, who were abused by priests or other representatives of the Church. Your wounded hearts and shattered spirits have a special claim on the Church, the body of Christ. We will forever be sorry for the harm you have suffered and humbly ask your forgiveness.

I also want to say a special word to the families of those who have been sexually abused. You trusted and loved your priests unconditionally. Tragically, that trust was betrayed. Many of you have extended to me the privilege of meeting with you over these past years. I have seen your broken hearts and tear-filled eyes. I have heard you share agonizing stories about your children, some of whom have even taken their own lives. You will always remain in my heart and mind. And, I pray that you will find consolation in the enduring compassion of the Lord....

During the course of the past five years, we have learned much due to the generosity of so many who have committed themselves to the rebuilding of the Church. There is much yet to be done to regain confidence and trust. The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us that the Church's mission is to make God's universal love more visible in the manner in which we live out our faith. The star of Bethlehem continues to shine brightly. Together, guided by this light, we will find our way.